KISSIMMEE, Fla. (April 9, 2017) – It’s been a long road to the RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo (RNCFR), but one that paid off with big dividends for champions crowned on Sunday. In addition to a share of the three-quarters of a million dollars in prize money, each champion won a Polarris RANGER UTV, a $20,000 voucher toward a new RAM truck, trophy saddle, buckle and other swag.
Action started Thursday, April 6 at the Silver Spurs Arena at Osceola Heritage Park with the best contestants from 12 geographic regions in the United States and the country of Mexico competing for $1 million in cash and prizes.
Everyone got two opportunities, hoping to be among the top eight that advanced to Showdown Sunday, April 9. From eight, the field was cut to four. The top time or score in the final round of four secured the championship.
R.C. Landingham from Hat Creek, California, was one of those champions. He qualified from the California Circuit in the bareback riding and was the most successful athlete here. Landingham was the big money winner at $29,630. When he entered this rodeo, he was 11th in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association World Standings. The money he won here counts in the world standings for the first time in the 30-year history of the RNCFR. He should move into the top five and will be looking good for a spot at the 2017 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
Landingham’s success came aboard a horse he was very familiar with, Korkow Rodeo’s Onion Ring. He had won the semifinals after receiving a reride where he scored 85.5 points on Smith Pro Rodeo’s R.D. Mercer. Then he met up with Onion Ring in the finals. Landingham had ridden the South Dakota horse to win the final round of the Pendleton Roundup last September with an 85.5 score. When the judges added up their scores at the RNCFR, an 88.5 gave him the championship.
The steer wrestling champion came from the Texas Circuit and got here by competing at rodeos close to his home in Hallsville. Justin Shaffer had the fastest time in the finals at 3.6 seconds to beat three men who are veterans of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. Shaffer nearly doubled his season earnings collecting $11,846.
This year’s team roping champions came from the Prairie Circuit. With Jesse Stipes from Salina, Oklahoma, heading and Buddy Hawkins from Columbus, Kansas heeling, they stopped the clock in 4.9 seconds for the win. They each won $17,342. This was the second RNCFR title for Hawkins, but the first for Stipes.
One year ago, Jacobs Crawley, from Boerne, Texas, left here as the reserve champion. He finished second to champion Rusty Wright by 1.5 points. This year he came to Kissimmee with only one thought on his mind, leaving with the title, money and all of the prizes that go with it. His plan came together in a big way as he won $25,343 here after making an 89.5-point ride on Smith Pro Rodeo’s Resistol’s Top Hat. The native Texan was very happy to earn a title for the Texas Circuit.
Veteran tie-down roper Matt Shiozawa, from Chubbock, Idaho, won his fourth RNCFR championship and $15,541. Riding his bay mare that he calls Alotta, the Wilderness Circuit athlete stopped the clock in 7.3 seconds for the win.
Barrel racing champion Emily Miller from Weatherford, Okla., made the trip here with her horse that she calls Pipewrench. They made their first round run on Thursday, had a day off on Friday and ran again on Saturday night to be among the semifinals qualifiers. They placed third and came back in the finals, stopping the clock in 15.27 seconds, one of the fastest runs of the rodeo. Miller is also a dental hygienist so she is making a quick trip back home to go to work on Tuesday morning. She won $13,646.
Texas got another champion in the bull riding. Tanner Learmont from Cleburne, Texas, was the only rider to cover on Sunday and which earned him the championship and $20,090. The all-around title went to Josh Peek who competed in steer wrestling and tie-down roping. This is the third consecutive title for the cowboy from Pueblo, Colo., who represented the Mountain States Circuit.
Plans are underway for the 2018 RNCFR which will again be held in Kissimmee. It is scheduled for April 5-8.
2017 RAM National Circuit Finals Champions:
Bareback Riding – R.C. Landingham, Hat Creek, Calif., California Circuit – $29,629
Steer Wrestling – Justin Shaffer, Hallsville, Texas, Texas Circuit – $11,846
Team Roping Header – Jesse Stipes, Salina, Okla., Prairie Circuit – $17,342
Team Roping Heeler – Buddy Hawkins, Columbus, Kan., Prairie Circuit – $17,342
Saddle Bronc Riding – Jacobs Crawley, Boerne, Texas, Texas Circuit – $25,344
Tie-Down Roping – Matt Shiozawa, Chubbuck, Idaho, Wilderness Circuit – $15,541
Women’s Barrel Racing – Emily Miller, Weatherford, Okla., Prairie Circuit – $13,646
Bull Riding – Tanner Learmont, Cleburne, Texas, Texas Circuit – $20,090
All-Around Cowboy – Josh Peek, Pueblo, Colo., Mountain States Circuit – $5,117
Champion Circuit – Prairie Circuit (Neb., Kan., Okla.)
The following are unofficial results of the RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo at Silver Spurs Arena, April 9, 2016.
Bareback riding: semi-finals 1, R.C. Landingham, Hat Creek, Calif., California Circuit, 85.5 points on Stace Smith Pro Rodeo’s R.D. Mercer, $7,581. 2, Caleb Bennett, Tremonton, Utah, Wilderness Circuit, 84, $5,686. 3, Justin Miller, Billings, Mont., Montana Circuit, 83, $3,791. 4, JR Vezain, Cowley, Wyo., Mountain States Circuit, 82.5, $1,895. Finals 1, Landingham, 88.5 points on Korkow Pro Rodeo’s Onion Ring, $7,581. 2, Miller, 88, $5,686. 3, (tie) Vezain and Bennett, 83, $2,843 each.
Steer wrestling: semi-finals 1, Olin Hannum, Malad, Idaho, Wilderness Circuit, 4.0 seconds, $7,581. 2, Ty Erickson, Helena, Montana, Montana Circuit, 3.7, $5,686. 3, Justin Shaffer, Hallsville Texas, Texas Circuit, 4.0, $3,791. 4, J.D. Struxness, Appleton, Minn., Prairie Circuit, 4.2, $1,895. Finals 1, Shaffer, 3.6 seconds, $7,581. 2, Struxness, 4.0, $5,686. 3, Erickson, 4.3, $3,791. 4, Hannum, 13.1, $1,895.
Team roping: semi-finals 1, Luke Brown, Stephenville, Texas, and Wesley Thorp, Throckmorton, Texas, Texas Circuit, 4.9 seconds, $7,581 each. 2, Coleman Proctor, Pryor, Okla., and Billie Jack Saebens, Nowata, Okla., Prairie Circuit 5.0, $5,686. 3, Edward Hawley, Surprise, Ariz., and Ty Romo, Whiteriver, Ariz., Turquoise Circuit, 5.1, $3,791. 4, Jesse Stipes, Salina, Okla., and Buddy Hawkins, Columbus, Kan., Prairie Circuit, 5.7, $1,895. Finals (two times) 1, Stipes and Hawkins, 4.9, $7,581 each. 2, Proctor and Saebens, 9.7, $5,686 each.
Saddle bronc riding: semi-finals 1, Jacobs Crawley, Boerne, Texas, Texas Circuit, 86.5 points on Bailey Pro Rodeo’s James Bond, $7,537. 2, (tie) Chuck Schmidt, Keldron, S.D., Badlands Circuit, and Jesse Wright, Milford, Utah, Wilderness Circuit 82.5, $4,711 each. 4, Tyrell Smith, Sand Coulee, Mont., Montana Circuit, 81.5, $1,884. Finals (three rides) 1, Crawley, 89.5 points on Stace Smith Pro Rodeo’s Resistol’s Top Hat, $7,537. 2, Wright, 86, $5,653. 3, Smith, 86, $3,769.
Tie-down roping: semi-finals 1, Jared Kempker, Eugene, Ore., Great Lakes Circuit, 8.1 seconds, $7,581. 2 Joseph Parsons, Marana, Ariz., Turquoise Circuit, 8.8, $5,686. 3, Randall Carlisle, Athens, La., Southeastern Circuit, 8.9, $3,791. 4, Matt Shiozawa, Chubbuck, Idaho, Wilderness Circuit, $1,895. Finals 1, Shoizawa, 7.3 seconds, $7,581. 2, Parsons, 8.1, $5,686. 3, Carlisle, 8.4, $3,791. 4, Kempker, 9.5, $1,895.
Barrel racing: semi-finals 1, Tiany Schuster, Krum, Texas, Texas Circuit, 15.18 seconds, $7,581. 2, Ari -Anna Flynn, Charleston, Ark., Texas Circuit, $5,686. 3, Emily Miller, Weatherford, Okla., Prairie Circuit, 15.51, $3,791. 4, Nellie Miller, Cottonwood, Calif., California Circuit, 15.55, $1,895. Finals 1, Emily Miller, 15.27, $7,581. 2, (tie) Flynn, Schuster and Nellie Miller, 15.41, $3,791 each.
Bull riding: semi-finals (one ride) 1, Tanner Learmont, Cleburne, Texas, Texas Circuit, 78 points on Silver Spurs Club’s Hang Em High, $7,581. Finals (no qualified rides)